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Burness merges with Paull & Williamsons

Burness’ Philip Rodney and Ian Wattie to continue in top leadership positions at combined firm

9 October 2012

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Scottish law firms Burness and Paull & Williamsons have today announced that they will merge.

The merger will come into effect on 1 December 2012 under the new firm name Burness Paull & Williamsons.

Burness’ current chairman, Philip Rodney, will continue in the same role at the new firm, as will the firm’s current managing partner, Ian Wattie.

Paull & Williamsons’ current managing partner, Scott Allan, will be demoted to deputy managing partner, while the firm’s chairman, Gordon Buchan, will be moved to the board as a consultant.

Based on 2011-12 figures, the merger will create a firm with a turnover of £37.6m, of which nearly two-thirds will come from Burness, which reported a turnover of £24.3m in 2011-12. Paull & Williamsons’ turnover was £13.3m in the same period.

Both firms say the merger is focused on growth and realising the opportunities that come from their combined strength.

They say there are no plans to reduce the numbers of departmental or divisional support staff and lawyers. Out of a total of 400 staff (including 60 partners and 158 lawyers), there will only be a few people affected due to the centralisation of one of the support functions.

“The merger will create a firm with established offices of similar size in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow,” said Rodney, noting that Paull & Williamson has long been a dominant force in the north east market, while Burness has been strong in the central belt.

“Unlike many of our rivals, both firms have elected not to open a London office. We have instead concentrated on our markets, and succeeded in building a large base of international clients from Scotland,” he said.

Added Allan: “Both firms have had several approaches to merge in the past, but it is hard to imagine a better fit. Our culture, ambitions and focus on quality are shared; our geography, clients and expertise are complementary and our combined objective, to be the leading Scottish commercial law firm serving Scottish, UK and international clients in and from Scotland, reflects our common ethos.”

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